After 17 years, New Zealand's longest-running gay bar is closing its doors.

According to, Urge in Auckland is the ninth gay bar to shutter in New Zealand over the past two years.

The closures are being blamed on the increasing popularity of apps such as Grindr.

“In the past you had to go to a venue to meet other LGBT people; today you don't,” Sociologist Michael Stevens said.

“Gay bars were a safe place to see a friendly face and not be judged,” said Shane Way, who worked at Shine, which closed its doors in March. “These days it's become more accepted in society, so gay people don't just go to gay bars.”

Urge co-owner Paul Heard added: “People's ability to communicate on a one-to-one basis has changed. I get guys in the bar sitting on their phones chatting to somebody on the other side – the app says they're zero metres away.”

“Years ago [weather] didn't seem to bother them but now they can stay at home and find someone who will come to their door, literally,” he added.

However, Stevens also said that rents have skyrocketed in the last decade for many of the bars.